Accountability to Affected Population training changes mindsets

As part of the training, participants were assisted on how to systematically mainstream AAP in all programs, establishing or strengthening existing feedback mechanism platforms.

Amanda Sithole
APP training
AWET
31 March 2021

For Precious Kavizah, a Monitoring Assistant at the World Food Programme (WFP) Zimbabwe, learning how organizations can better empower communities through accountable feedback mechanisms was a key focus from a recent training on Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP).

She was among participants drawn from government departments, civil society organisations (CSOs) and other UN agencies at the trainings, held virtually by UNICEF Zimbabwe in collaboration with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

The first phase of the ongoing trainings focused on the  Nutrition, WASH, Child Protection clusters and the Community Engagement Working Group (CEWG) members.

The training comprises eight lessons that focus on identifying existing social norms and other factors that act as barriers for marginalized or vulnerable groups to exercise their rights to access, services, engagement and participation in decisions that affect them.

 “As the Monitoring Assistant, my work involves interaction with different people including our partners, to ensure that food distributions are done timely and effectively every month. I make sure that the targeted beneficiaries and vulnerable communities receive their full entitlements and see that food security and livelihoods are strengthened.”

She added that the training has taught her that AAP should be at the forefront of every development program and emergency response and should be woven into the program design so that when evaluations for success are done, AAP is also a strong indicator.

As part of the training, participants were assisted on how to systematically mainstream AAP in all programs, establishing or strengthening existing feedback mechanism platforms as a way of ensuring effective accountability to vulnerable communities,  and increasing awareness on AAP, gender protection and diversity.

For Mercy Chirunga, Programme Officer, from the Child Protection Society, the training was informative and highlighted the importance of utilizing community feedback effectively and answered some of the questions which about why some of the programmes do not meet the desired outcomes.

She added that community feedback and engagement are crucial.  

“We do have feedback mechanisms such as psychosocial support boxes (suggestion boxes) in residential homes for our project of Children Living Outside the Family Environment to report cases on child protection violations. This mechanism was important as children were convinced that this type of feedback was the best method for them as mobility is limited making other reporting mechanisms such as phones difficult to use. This training has given me additional ways of harnessing feedback for accountability.”

The training also addressed issues of Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) through the use of examples such as the comic book, ‘Rudo’s Story” about PSEA in emergency contexts. The comic was developed by UNICEF with support from UK Aid, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Childline and the Swiss Agency for Development.

The comic book shows that there is a need for using clear illustrative examples so that community members feel encouraged to report such cases in humanitarian work.

Lloyd Katanda who also works with Child Protection Society concurred:

 “I previously thought that AAP was for the top management but through this training, I have learnt that it is everyone’s role in an organization to promote and adhere to principles of AAP.”

Lloyd said the training enhanced his understanding of community participation not only during the implementation of projects but from the design stage up to the evaluation of the project activities.

“The concept of feedback is of great significance as it entails actively seeking and accepting feedback from project stakeholders and beneficiaries. This process helps to keep the projects on track and to identify gaps. Such trainings should continue to be held virtually especially during this COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.